Grooveshire
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Grooveshire

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Blues

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"Grooveshire EP Review /Jambands.com"

Freak power! The people have spoken! You, the readers of Jambands.com, voted Grooveshire right into the #1 slot in our last “Groove of the Month” poll – and here we are with a review of their debut EP! Hey, now – don’t you feel proud and powerful?

After putting Grooveshire’s 4-song American Son EP through its paces here in the JamBands.com test kitchen, I can see where you all were coming from as you flexed the muscles of democracy: these lads rock and thrash in the most classic of ways – while doing it with a sound of their own.

For example, take the opener, “Celia Brown”: I can’t make up my mind if this feels more like Duane Allman sitting in with the early ’70s-era J. Geils Band or some of the Geils crew jamming with Duane and the Brothers. Sho’ ‘nuff, out of the gate, the Grooveshire boys sound like they come from a whole lot farther south than Cincinnati, Ohio: a searing slide guitar swaggers barefoot down the gravel road hand-in-hand with the vocal during the intro, making you cock your head like a Bluetick Coonhound, thinking “haven’t I heard this somewhere before?” Things quickly settle into a funky thang – cool on its own, but you can almost hear the knuckles cracking and shoulders popping in preparation for … something.

Then, a little after the three-minute mark, that something happens: the music drops out, leaving a search-and-destroy bass line against some high-hat and foot pedal and wisps of organ while lead singer Chris Melfi does a little testifying. Behind it all comes a round of handclaps on the two and the four while the guitar clears its throat and then – WHAM! – it’s 1973 and Boston’s WRKO is cranked and J. Geils and the gang are trying to beat their way out of the dashboard speaker – or so it seems. The only thing keeping Melfi from blowing his lungs out through his mouth is there’s a harmonica in the way, while the guitar lays down some funky wacka-wacka rhythm. Then the whole band kicks into gear and Melfi belts out the last verse like Peter Wolf on a tear – have mercy!

Or, how about “I’m Just A Widow Now”, which features an opening bass line by Brian Berwanger that is as greasy cool and catchy as the classic riff on Bill Withers’ “Use Me.” This is where the Grooveshire sound becomes even more defined: laid-back and cool drums; solid and dangerous-sounding rhythm guitar (without over-playing – these guys know the value of space); fat organ fills – and a just-out-of-reach slide guitar on the verses that definitely shows Skydog influences. Halfway through “Widow,” guitarists Jason Mollette and Jacob Jones begin to weave and bob with each other. By the time Melfi returns to take the vocal out, the combo of the crunched-up guitars and the gospel-choir-in-the-next-room background vocals sounds like a vintage Humble Pie rave-up, Blackberries backing and all.

The EP is a well-recorded sampler of what each member of Grooveshire is all about. On “Change”, drummer Mike Hennel proves himself to be a master of the powerful groove without playing everything in the house all at once. Meanwhile, the title track shows off Bryan Russell’s keyboard talents, beginning with a no-frills piano tone that eventually gives way to classic B-3 roars, subsiding to lovely Traffic-like cascades. Nice.

Looking over the above commentary, there are a lot of references to bands and artists who made the walls of dorm rooms shake 40 or so years ago. That’s okay. Grooveshire has taken some well-loved time-tested recipes and put their own mark on them. You might be able to identify some of their influences, but they’re not just copying licks.

You can cop an attitude, but you can’t fake soul.

Grooveshire’s got soul. - Jambands.com - Brian Robbins


""Flip Side to Music" Interview"

TL: How did you come up with the name GROOVESHIRE?

GS: Our name is simply synonomous with our sound. It was pretty easy to come up with the “groove part”, but the word “shire” actually took some thought. No, it has nothing to do with the “Lord of the Rings”…It was one of those rare unique ideas that Mike (drums), Jason (guitar) and myself came up with years ago when we first put the group together.

TL: Please tell us a little about the members of the group and how you all met.

GS: Myself, Jason (guitar) and Mike (drums) started the group back in 2003. We met while playing locally with other Cincinnati-based bands. We all had a great deal of respect for one another and decided to kick back and write some fresh tunes together. At the time, we were a good ole’ fashioned rock n’ roll outfit blending together multiple genres of blues, grunge, funk and metal…edgy guitar riffs with soul induced vocals and ambient drumming.

Through the years, the three of us continued to identify an original sound not common to the Ohio Valley region. That’s always been our goal though, to stand out and be different. We hired another guitar player (Jacob Jones) in 2006 for that very reason. Man, Jake blew us away! He was a young and fearless musician that could play the shit out of the slide guitar! Instantly, our sound was polished and Louisiana Bayou Grunge was born!

Our largest roadblock, however, was securing a consistent bass player, four quality musicians in four years, but nothing permanent. Finally, in late 2007, we landed Bryan Berwanger. What a great catch! Smooth as hell. He plays the bass the right way and is a great songwriter. The group has been pretty solid ever since.


photo by: Scott Preston
TL: What do you think attracted you guys to make music together and how did it all begin?

GS: We all share an equal passion for music. This group has always worked extremely well together, although, I’d be lying if I said being in a band is nothing like being married…it is! What attracted us to make music together was our equal dedication to song writing. We love being creative and controversial, but at the same time, organized and professional.

TL: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your sound?

GS: Wow… there are so many. Our influences are very diverse. What makes our sound so unique is the fact that we have successfully incorporated multiple musical genres into a collaboration that is based specifically on roots-rock n’ roll. If you smash Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Humble Pie into a blender and then toss a little Pearl Jam, Gov’t Mule and the Black Crowes on top you’ll get Grooveshire. It’s what we like to call “ Louisiana Bayou Grunge”.

TL: Are there any members who write their own material, or is it a joint effort?

GS: Ideas seem to flow easiest when the six of us work collectively. We write about what’s real. Everything from lyrics to the music tells a story. I think that’s what makes our music honest.

TL: From your performances so far, is there any that stand out more than the other? If so, how and why?

GS: Wow…there’s definitely a lot that stick out. We love to play, so every show to us is special, but I we’d have to say one of the more memorable performances was last Halloween with Blues Traveler. The show was in Cincy and couldn’t have been more fun. Popper and the boys are great! It was nice to be back home and play with a band as successful as Blues Traveler.

TL: What inspires the lyrics for your songs the most?

GS: Our lyrics are honest. We write about things that can affect anyone at anytime. It’s a very old school approach, but it keeps the listeners interested.

TL: Where do you see the band in say about 5 years?

GS: Like any determined band, we have specific goals that we strive to accomplish. We have been very fortunate over the past few years to play with some of music’s most hardworking and successful acts. Whether on the road or playing at home, we always put 100% effort into our song writing and performances. Five years from now we can only hope to continue to make good records and spread our music to various markets around the world.

TL: You’ve just been informed that for one night only, your band have the pick of any venue [around the world] to perform. Where/what would it be and why?

GS: That’s a tough question. There are so many great venues around the world. Being able to sell out Madison Square Garden would be amazing. Call me crazy, but playing the Colosseum in Rome would absolutely blow our minds!

TL: What has been your most favorite venue so far?

GS: We have played some great venues. On the home front though, I think it’s safe to say that we all collectively love playing at the Madison Theater in Covington.

TL: Do you have a record label?

GS: Not at the moment. We are shopping though. We have been doing the independent thing for quite some time now.

TL: Where can our readers find out more about you online, and any downloads?

GS: You will never have a hard time finding us online. We have all the major social networking sites available to our fans (Myspace, Facebook, etc.), including, grooveshire.com.

TL: Last thoughts/message for our readers?

GS: We are a complete rock band. For those root-rock enthusiasts, we truly believe this band has something for everyone. We are a dedicated set of musicians that love what we do and hope that our unique blend of blues, rock and soul will continue to spread throughout various markets around the world.

Flip Side to Music would like to thank you for this interview and we wish you much success!



Grooveshire -Debut EP American Son

Flip Side to Music recently had the pleasure of listening to this EP from this Cincinnati, Ohio band and from the jams of Southern type Rock, to the more funky rhythms, to the bluesier guitar riffs, I found it giving a taste of the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but with their own unique twist making me anticipate the next song and where it would lead me rhythm wise and the emotion it would touch my soul with.

I think listeners have to be touched by an artist’s music and to be able to relate and feel the song. The blend of music the guys use on the EP has something that almost everyone can feel and enjoy, it is incredible and definitely a unique sound that I can see taking these guys far!

In Flip Side to Music’s opinion this music really rocks!
Tracy Lewis - Tracy Lewis


"Interview with Jambands.com"

New Groove of The Month: Grooveshire

Cincinnati’s Grooveshire is our latest New Groove of the Month. The band finished first in our last Jambands 250 poll, earning the right to be featured here. The six-piece consists of founding members Chris Melfi (lead vocals/harmonica), Jason Mollette (guitar), and Mike Hennel (drums) and more recent additions, Jacob Jones (guitar), Brian Berwanger (bass) and Bryan Russell (organ). The results have yielded what the group describes as “Louisiana Bayou Grunge,” which can be heard on the band’s new EP, American Son. Here Melfi talks about the group’s origins and evolution.Can you talk about the development of the group? How did you meet and how did the current line-up solidify? Absolutely. Myself, Jason (guitar) and Mike (drums) started the group back in 2003. We met while playing locally with other Cincinnati-based bands. We all had a great deal of respect for one another and decided to kick back and write some fresh tunes together. At the time, we were a good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll outfit blending together multiple genres of blues, grunge, funk and metal…edgy guitar riffs with soul induced vocals and ambient drumming. Through the years, the three of us continued to identify an original sound not common to the Ohio Valley region. That’s always been our goal though, to stand out and be different. We hired another guitar player (Jacob Jones) in 2006 for that very reason. Man, Jake blew us away! He was a young and fearless musician that could play the shit out of the slide guitar! Instantly, our sound was polished and Louisiana Bayou Grunge was born! Our largest roadblock, however, was securing a consistent bass player, four quality musicians in four years, but nothing permanent. Finally, in late 2007, we landed Bryan Berwanger. What a great catch! Smooth as hell. He plays the bass the right way and is a great songwriter. The group has been pretty solid ever since. In terms of your musical backgrounds and interests, what does each of you bring to bear?We are dedicated rock n’ rollers! We all have individual influences that define who we are as artists. I grew up listening to my dad’s old vinyl. I mean, didn’t we all? It just sounds so much more real. That’s what we’re all about. Keeping things real. Even at a young age I seemed to view “vintage” as better. I think we all did. Artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, Allman Brothers, etc…I can go on and on…It’s all about your roots. I think collectively, we all have amazing roots! How would you describe the vitality and support of your local music scene? I would be lying if I said Cincinnati doesn’t have an amazing musical history. From King Records to Music Hall, I think Cincinnati’s roots are well perceived. There are some great musical traditions, such as our Midpoint Music Festival and strong venues that support original music. For a band like us, it’s easy to gain support when we do what we do. Although our style isn’t too popular in our market, it’s different and I think that is what’s attractive. Who writes the band’s music? How it is typically presented to the group and how does it then come together?Ideas seem to flow easiest when the six of us work collectively. We write about what’s real. Everything from lyrics to the music tells story. I think that’s what makes our music honest.

How do you approach original songs in the live setting?First and foremost, we’re a live act. I think it’s important to produce good records, but I think it’s even more intriguing to be a great live band. It’s cool to do things in the studio that you may not always do live. I think that makes us better songwriters. Throwing in an extra harmony or percussive instrument is usually the trend. We are pretty committed to making records that sound pure with very little over production. What about covers, can you talk about what songs you toss in from time to time? Who selects them?Early on, we would play a few covers to help finance our original project. However, songwriting has always been our primary focus. It is always fun to throw in a tune here or there that helps mark your influences. Songs such as “The Ocean” by Led Zeppelin or “Soulshine” by the Allman Brothers are fun tunes that we can put our own twist to. We all throw out crazy ideas…I guess it just depends on the particular show.In terms of cover tunes can you talk about any spectacular successes and failures?Well, let me think…sure. I can think of a couple from back in the day. The one success that stands out in my mind was “Outshined” by Soundgarden. Yes, I said Soundgarden. That song just rocks! We put our own spin on it and it always went over very well with the fans. Failures…well, lets just say that every good cover has its bad moments. I think “Get A Job” by The Greyboy Allstars is a great example. Not that we didn’t stay true to the song’s natural groove, I just think sometimes we tended to overplay while incorporating our own twist. It was still a fun groove though! How often do you rehearse? What do you focus on when you get together for rehearsal?We are pretty disciplined when it comes to rehearsals. Depending on our travel and show schedule we really try to maintain two rehearsals a week. It helps to keep things fresh, but more importantly it maintains a consistent writing schedule. Can you talk about some of your performance highlights thus far. Is there a gig (or gigs) that stand out? Why?Wow…there’s definitely a lot that stick out. We love to play, so every show to us is special, but I’d have to say one of the more memorable shows was last Halloween with Blues Traveler. The show was in Cincy and couldn’t have been more fun. Popper and the boys are great! It was nice to be back home and play with a band as successful as Blues Traveler. You just released your Amerian Son EP. Can you talk about the experience and also the challenges of bringing your live energy into the studio for the debut?Sure. The experience was great. Our organ payer, Bryan Russell, is the owner of RedPoint Studios in Dayton, Ohio, so it was nice to be able to record in a comfortable environment. The EP is a compilation of newer tunes that really fit the mold of our current agenda. For us, the recording process is very similar to performing live. I think some of the greats would agree. I think one of the easiest ways to record is together. You’re able to tweak what you need after the fact. We feed off each other. We didn’t want to break the recording process down too much. Any final thoughts to folks across the country who may be hearing about you for the first time from this piece? We are a complete rock band. For those root-rock enthusiasts, I truly believe this band has something for everyone. We are a dedicated set of musicians that love what we do and hope that our unique blend of blues, rock and soul will spread into various markets around the world.
- Jambands.com


"CityBeat Magazine"

It’s a sticky Saturday afternoon in College Corner, Ohio, and four out of the five members of Grooveshire are sitting under a small canopy on the grounds of Hannon’s Camp America. They’re here for Ohmstead, the camp’s smokiest music festival, a neo-hippie magnet.

As the band settles on the couches, drummer Mike Hennel returns from concessions, fisting five Keystone Lights. Were they free?

“Actually, no, it was free for everyone else, but it was expensive for me,” the drummer says, laughing.

He takes a seat, and I inquire about Grooveshire’s biggest deal yet: The band’s new EP, American Son, drops this month. It’s the centerpiece of the outfit’s “Louisiana Bayou Grunge,” a term stemming from Jacob Jones’ sizzling slide guitar riffs.

“When Jake joined a couple years back, he really put the Blues influence in the band,” says rhythm guitarist Jason Mollette.

“Most of my influences come from ’70s Classic Rock, late ’60s, Delta Blues, Rob John son,” Jones explains.

“I think all four songs on the EP all have greater meanings to all of us … as a prelude to the album we’re going to put out,” says singer Chris Melfi, who’s sporting a beanie and sunglasses that Scott Weiland would steal.

We have five minutes left. I ask the necessary background questions, which opens a discussion about Keith Roark taking up bass five months ago.

“At the time, you were living … where? Louisiana or something?” Melfi teases.

“Almost Tennessee … it was a good two-hour drive,” the bassist says. “I got a message from Chris online and he asked me to audition.”

Go time. The band snaps up and parts with obligatory handshakes. “Nice to meet you, dude.” “We’ll talk soon.” “Let us know whatever you need, man.”

The band has a two-hour slot at Ohmstead, and its lead axeman greets the surrounding campers with an extended slide-guitar solo hotter than boiling jambalaya. (Yes, you will ask for seconds.)

I catch up with Melfi via phone two days later.

“We’re real big about networking Grooveshire with other artists,” he says. “I think sometimes Cincinnati bands work against each other rather than with each other. Why do bands have to be rivals? We’re super close with Rumpke Mountain Boys.”

His ideal gig?

“Being able to be on stage with Blues Traveler on Halloween was an honor,” he answers. “Being able to play with those individuals that you looked up to and maybe were your idol … that never gets old. Whether it’s Blues Traveler, Indigenous, Grace Potter, you learn something from them. Blues Traveler was a different high. It was a band that influenced me as an artist.”

Melfi’s lengthy responses reflect his passion for music and, more specifically, this band. Grooveshire is shifting its focus to the local scene.

“We’re going to be ‘Cincinnati boys’ now, really spending some time here,” he says. “Buffalo Killers and Heartless Bastards have been successful, and they still give back to Cincinnati.

“There’s always room to develop a fanbase. Phish is a prime example. Love or hate Phish, they have one of the largest fan bases in music.” - Rich Shriver


Discography

2009 - American Son EP
2012 - New Album Coming Soon!

Photos

Bio

Grooveshire is an Ohio born band dedicated to quality song writing. Their unique tone of Louisiana Bayou Grunge makes them one the most energetic and established acts north of the Mason Dixon Line. When Chris Melfi (lead vocals/harmonica), Jason Mollette (guitar), and Mike Hennel (drums) founded the group in 2003, they envisioned a band based on companionship, free spirit, and drive. Although the trio experienced a multitude of changes over the years, they continued to be considered some the region's most unique and determined artists. When seasoned guitarist Jacob Jones joined the band in Late 2006, the group quickly blossomed their powerful Americana grunge rock swagger into something completely unique and unparalleled to the Cincinnati music scene. With the addition of Veteran musicians, Matt McCormick(bass) and Bryan Russell (organ), Grooveshire's musical reputation continued to grow. Both Mccormick and Russell bring a unique flare to a musical compilation based on powerful blues, rock and soul! The band tours consistently throughout the region and has shared the stage with some of music's most accomplished acts. Such acts include Robin Trower,Rusted Root, Davy Knowles & Backdoor Slam, Matt Abts (Gov't Mule), JJ Grey and Mofro, Blues Traveler, Indigenous, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Backyard Tire Fire, The Commander Cody Band, The Steepwater Band and many more. They have strung together hundreds of shows over the past few years and are widely considered one the hardest working bands around. Grooveshire is a Midwest rock band on the rise. Their unique style places them comfortably into numerous markets around the country, enabling them to frequently venture into both familiar and unfamiliar places with a warm and receptive response.

Brian Robbins/Jambands.com:

"Freak power! The people have spoken! You, the readers of Jambands.com, voted Grooveshire right into the #1 slot in our last “Groove of the Month” poll – and here we are with a review of their debut EP! Hey, now – don’t you feel proud and powerful?
Grooveshire has taken some well-loved time-tested recipes and put their own mark on them. You might be able to identify some of their influences, but they’re not just copying licks. You can cop an attitude, but you can’t fake soul. Grooveshire’s got soul."